The Pilot Grove girls and Prairie Home boys basketball teams punched their tickets to the championship in the Seventh annual Pilot Grove Tiger Classic after recording impressive wins on Thursday.
Although the Lady Tigers had a little tougher time while prevailing over Stover 50-43, the win was still Pilot Grove’s fifth of the season under head coach Linda Scott. As for the Prairie Home boys, they overcame a sluggish first quarter to beat the Russellville Indians 61-32. In the only other game Thursday night, the Otterville girls edged Buncetonj 39-35.
Tournament action will continue tonight with the two consolation games, with Prairie Home girls battling Sacred Heart at 5:30 p.m. and Stover boys playing Russellville at 7. Then, on Saturday, the Bunceton girls will play Stover for third place at 2 p.m., followed by the Bunceton boys versus Otterville at 3:30, Pilot Grove girls versus Otterville for the championship at 5 and Pilot Grove boys versus Prairie Home for the title at 6:30.
As for the Pilot Grove girls, who improved to 5-0 on the season, they led Stover from start to finish while taking a 32-20 lead into the half and a 46-32 advantage after three. However in the final period, the Lady Tigers managed just four points while Stover reeled off 11 to cut the lead back to seven.
Pilot Grove coach Linda Scott said the girls moved so well on defense in the first half.  
“We really worked on hard on defense all game,” Scott said. “We have really set defense and rebounding a huge goal of ours this season and the girls are getting a taste for the game we want to play.  Our rebounding was also a powerhouse tonight.  Offensively we saw a man defense for the first time this season but were still able to get the shots we wanted  all night.  Schupp and Wolfe were our power players tonight while  Schlotzhauer had a good night on the boards.   We got into some foul problems in the second half,  but freshmen Natalie Glenn came in off the bench to give us a super spark. In the last quarter we slowed the game down because of foul problems.  Overall we played so well as a team.  We seem to be on the same page as teammates.  Our best game so far this season.  We are getting better each game out.  So proud of this team.”
Emily Schupp and Melanie Wolfe each had 18 points in the game for Pilot Grove while grabbing 15 and 12 rebounds, respectively. Schupp also finished the game with four assists and one steal.
Grace Phillips tallied five points, five assists, one rebound and one steal while Chloe Schlotzhauer added four points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two steals, Natalie Glenn also with four points, six rebounds and one assist, Reagan McFatrich one point, three rebouds and two assists, Abby Schupp with one steal and Natalie Rentel with one rebound.
For Stover, Jenna Bellis had 16 and Emily Bauer with 11.
As for the Prairie Home boys, they trailed Russellville 7-2 after first period’s end but rallied back with a 14-7 scoring edge in the second quarter to lead at the half 16-14. The Panthers never trailed after that by outscoring Russellville 45-20 in the second half for the victory.
Prairie Home coach Mark McLaughlin said Russellville played the Panthers very tough for a half.
“They jumped out 7-0 and we fought back to lead 16-14 at half,” McLaughlin said. “Adjusting to the absence of Clayton Pethan, we needed to get our legs under us.  In the second half, we did that with defense which created offense, with a 45-18 second half.  Proud of the leadership we got from Blake, Kassen and Luke and how big Ty and Blaine stepped up in finally breaking the dam and getting us out and going in the second. Awesome opportunity to move to championship of the Pilot Grove Tournament against Pilot Grove.  Hope it’s an instant classic.”
Kassen Lock and Blaine Petsel each had 16 points in the game for Prairie Home, who improved to 4-2 on the season. Lock also finished the game with six steals, five assists and three rebounds while Petsel added seven rebounds, five steals and two assists. Luke Stewart chipped in 10 points, five rebounds, five steals and two assists while Ty Stidham added nine points, 10 steals, nine rebounds and two assists, Oliver Lock six points, Blake Petsel four points, five steals, four rebounds and two assists and Ryan Small with two rebounds and one assist.
As for the Bunceton girls, they led Otterville 13-10 after one and 19-18 at the break but was outscored 20-17 in the second half to suffer the loss.
Bunceton coach Dustin Ray said talk about a nailbiter between two teams.  
“Both teams came out very slow, running their offense and looking for particular shots,” Ray said. “We had a good amount of success in the first part of the game doing this.  The third quarter was our downfall.  They came out of the locker room with a lot more intensity than we did, and we couldn’t match it.  As is typical with us, we continued to fight back and played a very tough fourth quarter, holding them to only four points, but it was too little too late.”
Abby Nichols had 14 points to lead all scorers for Otterville.
For Bunceton, who dropped to 1-4 on the season, Taylor Burnett finished the game with 12 points, five assists, four rebounds and one steal. Chloe Moser chipped in eight points and four rebounds while Madelynn Myers added five points and one rebound, Cara Bishop with four points and four rebounds, Taylyn Heilman four points, one rebound and one steal and Reagan Triebsch with two points, three rebounds, three steals and two assists.